How naps help infants learn
According to a new study, letting your baby take naps during the day may lead to better retention and recall of things they have learned.
The UK based-University of Sheffield study found that there are many positive effects from napping on an infant’s memory development and learning process.
Researchers looked to see if “daytime sleep after learning helped babies to remember new behavior” and recall new skills they learned. There were 216 healthy infants, ranging from six to 12 months old in the study.
Each infant was taught how to remove and use a mitten from a hand puppet. The infants were then asked to repeat the actions after four hours and 24 hours.
One group of infants did not nap, while the other group of infants napped for at least 30 minutes, four hours after learning the new skill.
The results found that only the group of infants who napped after learning the action remembered it; the group of infants who did not nap did not remember learning the new action at all. Also, naps that were less than 30 minutes were not enough time for infants to process and retain their knowledge.
“Until now people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide-awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered,” said researcher Dr. Jane Herbert, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, in a statement.
“A well-rested baby is a happy baby. We know that babies who sleep well are usually well adjusted and adapt to their surroundings better,” she says. “They tend to have better behavior patterns and are content for longer periods of time.”
Dr. Groboski adds that a baby who is well-rested will also play and interact with their environment for longer periods of time.
“They are more accepting and respond more favorably to stimulation,” she says.
“I would think that the activity done just before sleep is the ‘freshest’ in their mind and that is what is ‘imprinted’ and thought about during that nap time,” Dr. Groboski says. “It may be that it has longer lasting effects because they are ‘sleeping on it.’ Just like an adult will have a clearer picture sometimes once they have ‘slept on it.’”
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